These employees need to provide 300-400 hours of self-driving data to the Autopilot team by the end of 2019, or they're on the hook for the $13,000 in options. The end goal of this program is, of course, to push Autopilot toward full self-driving capability by logging more on-road miles.
Tesla has been promising self-driving Autopilot capability for years and has taken many, many customer deposits for the service. Musk has also promised a coast-to-coast road trip using self-driving Autopilot, but that too has yet to materialize.
Part of the problem with Autopilot lies in its specific suite of hardware. Many experts insist that Autopilot can never achieve full self-driving capability without the inclusion of lidar sensors on the vehicle. Currently, Tesla's Autopilot relies on eight cameras, several radar sensors and ultrasonic sensors. Elon Musk has vehemently disagreed, stating in the past that lidar "is a crutch."
Autopilot's development has been severely set back on multiple occasions due to the departure of development partners like Nvidia and Mobileye as well as the exit of chip designer and program lead Jim Keller. Despite this, Musk said during Tesla's August earnings call that the company's self-driving chip was "coming to fruition."
Tesla representatives declined to comment on this story.